Hotel Ezra Cornell

Hotel Ezra Cornell

About HEC

HEC stands for Hotel Ezra Cornell, which is an annual weekend-long educational conference put on by the students of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration for leaders of the hospitality industry. It comprises educational seminars, leisure activities, and food and beverage events. The purpose of the weekend is for students to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom and to showcase their talents to industry professionals.

HEC is planned, managed, and staffed entirely by students. Over the course of one academic year, the student Board of Directors, Board Assistants, and Function Managers plan all of the details of HEC, and during the weekend, over 300 students get involved to make the effort a success. From the food on the guests’ plates to the decorations at all functions to the turndown service at night, everything is done by student. Faculty members act only as advisers: ultimately, the entire weekend is in the hands of the students.

The history of HEC

Now in its 82nd year, Hotel Ezra Cornell is a tradition older than the Hotel School itself. HEC dates back to 1925, when Dean Howard Meek took a group of students to New York City to manage the Hotel Astor for a day." [cite book|title=Hospitality Leadership: The Cornell Hotel School|author=Brad Edmondson|publisher=Cornell Society of Hotelmen|year=1997|id=ISBN 0-9649921-0-8, p. 33-34] Upon returning to Ithaca, the students decided to hold the grand opening of “The Only Hotel for a Day.” The students planned and managed an extravagant formal dinner party for the pioneers on the hospitality industry, and thus, on May 7, 1926, in Risley Hall on Cornell’s campus, Hotel Ezra Cornell was born.

The second year of HEC was a turning point in the history of the School. One of the world’s leading hoteliers, Ellsworth Milton Statler, was a guest of honor, attending to find out whether the good rumors about Cornell’s hotel program were true. At the main banquet, Statler commented, “I’m converted. Meek can have any damn thing he wants.”" [cite book|title=Hospitality Leadership: The Cornell Hotel School|author=Brad Edmondson|publisher=Cornell Society of Hotelmen|year=1997|id=ISBN 0-9649921-0-8, p. 39]

In years to come, HEC became more and more elaborate. The weekends began adopting themes. For example, HEC 60 was themed “Diamond Robbery” and took after a mystery theater. The whole weekend was centered on solving a fictitious diamond robbery, with each social event providing clues. By the end, particularly perceptive guests were able to solve the mystery. However, the themes ended with HEC 77, when the focus of the weekend shifted from socializing to learning.

Students coined the tag line “The Best Ever” to describe how their HEC would top all previous HECs. [cite book|title=The Best Ever! Memories of Hotel Ezra Cornell|author=Sanders, Joy and Morris, Allison Jeanne Morris|publisher=The Grapevine Press|year=1990]

Important dates in the HEC timeline

*1926: HEC 1
*1927: Statler pledges support
*1938: HEC is dedicated to Meek
*1943: 20th Anniversary of hotel program, announcement that Statler Foundation would support new facility for school
*1950: The cornerstone of Statler Hall is laid
*1951: Meek is named director of hotel program; the new Statler Hall opens
*1955: The Hotel School becomes an independent unit
*1962: Meek’s last year, HEC is dedicated to him
*1972: Educational focus introduced
*1980: Formal dinner becomes multiple dinners—guests get to choose which dinner to attend
*1988 & 1989: [Statler Hotel] under renovation, so HEC is held all over campus
*1990: Grand Opening of Statler Hotel and J. Willard Marriott Executive Education Center (record number of industry leaders in *attendance)
*2005: First year with HEC to be held in the Robert A. and Jan M. Beck Center

Past and current VIP guests

*Ken Blanchard - Owner, Ken Blanchard Companies, Author, One Minute Manager; Management consultant
*Chris Cahill - President/COO, Fairmont Hotels
*Simon Cooper - COO, Ritz Carlton
*Stoddard Crane - VP of Business Growth, Darden Restaurants
*John Harney - Founder/Owner, Harney Teas
*Matthew Hart - President/COO, Hilton Hotels Corporation
*Wolf Hengst - President, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
*Conrad Hilton - Founder, Hilton Hotels Corporation
*Chef En Ming Hsu - Captain, US World Cup Pastry Team
*Ali Kasicki - Managing Director, The Peninsula Beverly Hills
*Howard Deering Johnson - Founder, Howard Johnson's Hotels
*Mark Lommano - President, Smith Travel Report
*J. Willard Marriott, Jr. - CEO of Marriott Hotels
*David Neeleman - CEO, JetBlue
*Drew Nieporent - President, Myriad Restaurant Group
*Timothy Ryan - President, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
*Burton “Skip” Sack - Chairman, National Restaurant Association (NRA)
*John Sharpe - Former President/COO, Four Seasons
*William Shaw - President/COO, Marriott International
*Randy Smith - CEO, Smith Travel Research
*Barry Sternlicht - Former CEO, Starwood Hotels and Resorts
*Deborah Szekely - Founder/Owner, The Golden Door Spa
*Ted Teng - President/COO, Wyndham International
*Jonathan Tisch - President/CEO, Loews Hotels
*Stephen Weisz - President, Marriott Vacation Club International
*Steve Wynn - Chairman, Wynn Resorts

Past donations to HEC

Aramark—HEC logo apparel

Albert Uster Imports—Champagne, truffles


Banfi Vintners—Wine

BIC Graphic—Pens

BVLGARI—Bath amenities

Escada—launched their new European line of amenities



Four Seasons Hotels—Robes

Gilchrist & Soames—Bath amenities

Golden Door Spa—Amenities

Harney & Sons Fine Teas—Teas

Jurlique—His & hers welcome and departure gifts, bath amenities

Moet & Chandon—Sponsored champagne event

Oneida—Commemorative plates

Pulltex and [TW McGuire International] —Wine corkscrews

Ravenscroft Crystal—Wine tasting glasses/stemware

Scharffen Berger—Sponsored wine and chocolate event



Zagat Survey—Restaurant guides


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